Staying home during the Covid-19 has kept us safe. It’s also meant many of us have spent entirely too much time around our significant other.
Human beings are social creatures. But especially for introverts, being cooped up with someone else 24/7 can be draining. Even if that doesn’t manifest in shouting matches, it can sour even the healthiest of relationships.
More than a third of U.S. adults reported increased relationship stress during Covid-19, according to a survey by the Indiana University School of Public Health and School of Medicine. Many divulged they also engaged in less intimate behavior.
You may not be able to make the pandemic disappear, but you can control how it affects your relationship. Here’s how to keep your love life healthy:
- Avoid Major Life Changes
A public health crisis is not the time for preventable life changes — one in particular: If you weren’t already planning to expand your family in the next few months, don’t. Having a child can place added emotional and financial stress on couples during an already chaotic time.
The combination of extra time at home and potentially reduced access to contraceptives has doctors predicting a 2021 baby boom. Make sure you have ready access to birth control. If you don’t have a prescription but are not willing to risk a visit to your doctor’s office right now, request a telehealth appointment.
Spending more time with your partner is a great way to improve your sex life. Just make sure you do it without adding another surprise to the chaos.
- Lean Into Routine
In a time when everything feels topsy-turvy, routines can be grounding. Work with your partner to establish a together routine, but don’t neglect your own needs.
Establish regular sleeping hours, wake-up times, meals, and bedtimes. Be sure to let your partner know when you’ll be working and when you expect to have free time. Avoid unnecessary fights by communicating your daily routine with each other.
Apply routine to your free time as well. Find times you can enjoy a couple’s workout or a Netflix binge together. Just because things are out of sorts right now doesn’t mean your entire life has to be.
- Create Alone Time and Space
Spending time together is vital for all relationships. Through Covid-19, however, we’ve discovered our limits on “together time.” Relationships need space to breathe just as much as they need closeness.
Talk with your partner about when in the day they want to have alone time. Maybe they want to start each morning with a solo meditation. Perhaps they need some time alone to wind down. Maybe a midway walk apart is just the ticket.
This is especially important for relationships in which one or both parties typically work outside the home. If you are used to going to work at eight, that’s when you go to the home office. Then, be present for the evening when your workday is over.
Alone time also requires separate spaces. If your living situation allows for it, each person should choose a “retreat” room they can make their own. Decide, too, how and when shared rooms should be used. A healthy relationship requires both.
- Structure Your Support System
Once you have your time and physical space accounted for, take care of your mental health. Your relationship is at its best when each of you are individually.
Everyone needs a support system. You can’t expect yours to always be there for you; you have to build and maintain it deliberately.
Your first level of support should be your partner. Often used in couple’s counseling, one tactic worth trying is uninterrupted listening. Give each other three to five minutes to speak freely about stressors without interjecting. By taking turns as the speaker and the listener, you’ll build support and trust.
Relying solely on your partner to support you, however, is not a good idea. Establish other connections you can reach out to if you need to talk.
Sharing your burdens with your partner and your partner only can be stifling. Reach out to family, friends, and co-workers. Decide who’s the best person, other than your partner, to go to about each issue in your life.
- Find the Fun
Keeping your relationship healthy right now isn’t all about setting schedules and creating boundaries. There also has to be some room for fun in your relationship.
Before the pandemic struck, you wouldn’t have wanted to be in a relationship that’s nothing but work. That shouldn’t change just because you’re now living through different circumstances.
If you already had an established date night, continue to hold it at home. Instead of going to a movie theater, have an at-home movie night. Play games with your friends over video chat. Go for walks around your neighborhood and talk about things other than the pandemic. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you have doing everyday activities together.
Pandemic-friendly events like dates also gives you something to look forward to. We all know the situation we find ourselves in isn’t great. Focusing on fun things keeps the despair at bay.
No one expects you to have a perfect relationship right now — even your partner, despite what it may seem sometimes. Creating normalcy where you can will keep your love life stable. By doing what you can for your relationship now, you’ll get through whatever is still to come together.